Like cloning Nelson Mandela and casting him in a soap

Last issue we were spoilt for choice, with Finding Dory, Love & Friendship and The Lobster all vying for our attention. This time around, we mostly have mediocrity and uncertainty – our only surefire recommendations are films you must avoid.

More like Charlton Athletic
Leading the way, through eight laps of chariot-racing carnage that CGI does its best to spoil, is the remake of one of cinema’s most respected films, Ben-Hur (released Sep 1, Metacritic: 37). Remaking William Wyler’s 1959 epic is akin to cloning Nelson Mandela and casting him in a soap opera or, perhaps a better comparison, rewriting the Declaration of Independence to appease dullards whose attention span doesn’t lend itself to long sentences.

The filmmakers’ research informed them that the majority of Generation Binge (16 to 35-year-olds) have never seen it, and it is one hell of a story they’re missing out on. Unfortunately this version, according to the Seattle Times, is “cheap and cheesy” and undeserving of the categorisation ‘epic’.

Up Dawson’s, no paddle
Among the cast is Pilou Asbæk (Euron Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) as Pontius Pilate, one of cinema’s most enigmatic roles. Over the years, a wide range of actors have played him, including British actors Hugh Bonneville and Gary Oldman, Americans Harvey Keitel and Rod Steiger – and even David Bowie.

Sadly Entertainment Weekly found Asbæk “so square compared to past Pilates Gary Oldman and David Bowie”, while Empire magazine suggested he was “aiming for the ruggedness of Russell Crowe but ending up closer to Pacey Witter” – the other lead male character in Dawson’s Creek. Ouch!

A supportive boyfriend
Another Scandinavian who needs little introduction these days is Oscar-winning Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, and given the strength of the supporting cast of her latest film, The Light Between Oceans (Sep 8, Not Released Yet) – which includes Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz – this looks a safe bet to deliver if you like your dramas eerie and uncheery.

As well as supporting her on film, Fassbender ended up supporting Vikander in the missionary position, as the pair emerged as a couple shortly after filming concluded in late 2014. Still virtually unknown back then, she starred in five big films in 2015.

Somewhat predictable
Then again, maybe we should save the showbiz tittle-tattle for the trash mags, who will be too busy bigging up Bridget Jones’ Baby (Sep 15, NRY) and rerunning pieces on Renée Zellweger’s behind they first ran in 2001. The sequel was a film too far for this creation, although Harry Potter fans will enjoy trying to spot Hogwarts’ finest amongst the shrubbery that make up the cast.

Safer bets in the comedy department come from Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Sep 1, 51) and Sausage Party (Sep 8, 66). The low score afforded the former doesn’t mean it won’t make you laugh, and with Zac Efron on board, you’ll probably enjoy it for other reasons. And who knows, maybe Blair Witch (Sep 15, NRY) will raise a few chuckles, along with clenched knuckles, if you can still stomach the camcorder approach 17 years on from the original.

It feels like it’s been that long since Mel Gibson was likeable. Blood Father (Sep 1, 66) could mark a return to form at the box office, even if its name suggests it’s yet another film in which he plays a sorely pissed-off male relation.

Miss Jones at your peril
Elsewhere, the miracle on the Hudson gets the Hollywood treatment in Sully (Sep 8, NRY) starring Tom Hanks and the general consensus is that it’s a bit formulaic; care home drama Chronic (Sep 15, NRY) starring Tim Roth gets a surprise, if ill-advised cinematic opening (you can only imagine the title will end up referring to its ticket sales); and Free State of Jones (Sep 15, 53), a film about a slave uprising led by a white farmer in the American South in the 1860s starring Matthew McConaughey, has perhaps been unfairly treated by critics for political reasons.

And there are also a number of foreign films coming out, including acclaimed Venezuelan film Sidste Nat I Caracus (Sep 15); modern day Copenhagen drama I Blodet (Sep 15), if you fancy seeing your life on screen; Danish documentary Bugs (Sep 8); and Pedro Almodovar’s latest, Julieta (Sep 15, 63).

Over at Cinemateket, Danish on a Sunday presents two Danish films with English subtitles – Sorgenfri (What we become) and Der kommer en dag (Day will come) – on September 11 and 18 at 14:15, while its September line-up is spearheaded by the Don’t Fear the Weird festival (Sep 13-15), which includes an introduction to Birdman (Sep 15, 18:50) by everyone’s favourite dirty old cycling commentator Jørgen Leth, and a season of Todd Haynes films.

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